We’re not going to lie, fasting can be a challenge. Especially when hanger hits. Lucky for you, our superstar scientist Dr Krista Varady is explaining how to deal with hangry feels.
han–gre (adjective): Bad tempered or irritable as a result of hunger; a negative emotional state fuelled by hunger. Symptoms may include: tummy rumbling, scowling, sarcastic side eye, inability to tolerate normal levels of stupidity, snarky comments, loud sighing and consumption of anything remotely edible. Warning: may impair mood, judgement and tolerance levels. Do not socialise if affected.
See also: hanxiety.
hang-zi–ite (noun): Panic or stress induced by a hangry episode; dread or worry that follows a hanger-fuelled rampage. Symptoms may include: concern that you may have called your boss a $#@%-head, a sense of uneasiness as to why your pepper spray is empty and nagging dread about why the dog is missing.
You may be uneasy about starting a fast diet because you think you’ll be ‘hangry’ all the time. The good news is, although you may be a bit ‘hangry’ at the very beginning of the diet, this will subside quickly.
What are the symptoms of hunger or hanger? Being hungry generally involves a feeling of emptiness in the stomach. This empty feeling can sometimes be accompanied by stomach rumbling or even mild nausea. Some people also report feeling faint, irritable, and easily agitated. When your hunger makes you angry, that’s when you know you’re ‘hangry’.
When starting your fast diet, it’s important to keep in mind that the first 3-5 fast days may be a bit tough. But don’t worry! Your body will quickly adjust to the fast days and your new pattern of eating. In our studies, we have shown that hunger decreases and fullness increases on the fast day after a about a week. So, even though the first week may be difficult, just remember that the hunger pangs will subside very soon.
Another piece of good news is that after this first week is over, you’ll probably experience a boost of energy on your fast days. You may also notice that your ability to concentrate and focus has improved. Why does this happen? We are still not sure, but it may be tied into our ancestral instincts. In prehistoric times during periods of food scarcity, we would experience a boost of energy and focus so that we could catch the next ‘big hunt’. Our bodies may be responding similarly today when we fast, so that we have the energy to track down our next meal.
Hunger isn’t always a bad thing though – it may actually help us to enjoy our food more. In a recent study, young men and women water fasted for 24 hours. After the fast was over, the researchers noticed that the subjects had a heightened sense of smell and that this was related to a greater enjoyment of food.
If you are struggling with hunger on fast days, here are some tips to help you through:
- Eating high fibre foods for your fast day meal (nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables). Research shows that higher fibre diets have appetite-suppressing effects
- Eating high protein foods for your fast day meal (meat, fish, tofu, or nuts). At least 50 g of protein is ideal
- Drinking lots of water
- Drinking black coffee or green tea. These beverages have appetite-suppressing effects and may help your body stay in fat burning mode
- Watching less TV! Research shows that watching TV increases food intake and also blunts our ability to feel full
Still feeling a bit hangry? Don’t snap; laugh it off with these funnies instead. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done under the influence of hanger? Share the crazy with our Super Squad by commenting below. Still struggling? Check out our series on distracting and worthwhile things to do when you’re hungry and bored, or hungry at home.